Devlin Gantt was at his home in Austin, Texas on November 1, 2012 when his 22-year-old daughter Sandra called him from Susanville, California. After sharing the wonderful news that she was pregnant with her second child, she asked her father to sit for her next announcement. Recent blood tests determined that she had leukemia and the doctors supporting her pregnancy and her cancer were struggling to balance the critical interests of mother and baby. As long as Devlin’s oldest daughter carries the baby, she is unable to undergo the comprehensive chemotherapy program her oncologist is prescribing for her. Sandra, and her husband, Anthony are also parents to 23-month-old Mark.
The medical professionals have been carefully weighing options for saving Sandra and giving the baby an optimal chance for health. Initially, the plan was to take the baby at 29 weeks. That plan has been revised; the baby will enter the world at 31 ½ weeks, the day after Christmas.
They expect the child to remain in neonatal intensive care for up to ten weeks while Sandra begins an aggressive cancer treatment regimen. Sandra’s father, Devlin, has faced painful circumstances before. He lost both of his parents when he was 18. His first wife died when she was just 33 years of age and Sandra was nine. Five years later, he remarried and now has a seven-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son with his second wife. On top of everything else, they face the current crisis in the midst of a home remodeling project that they have been forced to suspend with torn out floors. Devlin worries about the financial nightmare that he and his wife face.
Sadly, they do not see any way to provide a Christmas for the young children at home. Devlin states that it has all left his head spinning. He will have to return to Austin soon and does not know whether or when he will be able to afford to come back to support his family. But in the despair, the Kiwanis Family House has been a welcomed source of comfort. “For the first time in my life, I feel that I have somebody to walk with me. Kiwanis is my rock right now. This place has taken a lot of pressure off me and I can relax a little bit.”